Hastings United confirmed their league leaders’ credentials with a 5-1 thrashing of Chichester City.
Davide Rodari continued his hot scoring streak with a first-half double, adding to goals by Sam Adams and Daniel Ajakaiye. City reduced the arrears with an early second-half goal, but any hint of a recovery was immediately quashed by Ryan Worrall’s penalty after Rodari was felled in the area.
Before kick-off, midfielder Adam Lovatt received a plaque to commemorate his hundredth appearance for United.
United manager, Chris Agutter, continued with Rodari leading the line in place of Ben Pope and was once again rewarded by the striker. After a positive start, United took the lead on nine minutes. Ollie Black picked up a loose ball some forty yards out and spotted an intelligent run by Rodari. Black threaded an accurate pass into Rodari’s feet on the edge of the area and in the blink of an eye the ball was nestling in the back of the net.
Adams almost made it two a few minutes later, only for his shot to be blocked. United though were on the front foot and soon extended their lead. They retained possession and remained patient for a couple of minutes, then Lanre Azeez produced a magic turn in midfield and freed Jake Elliott down the right. His low cross was slid home by Adams despite the defenders around him.
For all their flair, a third goal followed in a manner which truly demonstrated United’s hard-working ethic. After a move on the left wing broke down, Black and Ajakaiye hurried and harried the City defence into a mistake allowing Ajakaiye to retrieve the ball. His drive into the area ended with a shot hammered against the far post and in. Midway through the first-half and United in total control, three goals to the good.
After Ajakaiye had a shot deflected over the bar, City put together their best move of the game. Passing the ball at speed they worked the ball down the right before an excellent whipped cross was met by Scott Jones. His header was athletically tipped over the bar by Louis Rogers.
United responded with another patient move resulting in their fourth goal. Azeez heavily involved again, finding a pocket of space in midfield before playing a ball to Rodari who simply took the ball in his stride and passed into the corner. The pass from Azeez so accurate and the clever run from Rodari terrific.
The referee blew his whistle for half-time and United headed for their cup of tea to a standing ovation after an outstanding first-half display.
Half-time: Hastings United 4-0 Chichester City
City kicked-off the second-half and immediately won a corner down the right. A deep cross was headed goalward and headed in by Corey Heath from close-range to reduce the deficit. United instantly thwarted any thoughts of an unlikely recovery. Adams with another neat pass to complement Rodari’s run resulted in the forward being held back as he was about to shoot. The referee had little choice but to award United a penalty, which Worrall fired unerringly into the top corner.
Minutes later Adams played a wonderful pass inside the full-back for Ajakaiye to run onto. As the goalkeeper rushed out, Ajakaiye’s chipped shot drifted just wide of the far post.
United’s fifth goal had taken the sting out of City and as the second-half petered out it allowed time to reflect on the season to date. United still unbeaten in the league now stretching to fourteen games. Victory today also maintained their 100% home league record with seven out of seven victories. Rodari is the top scorer, having hit eleven goals in four games and nineteen in total for the season. The defence have conceded only eight league goals, by far the best defensive record.
Little wonder attendances are increasing. Saturday’s attendance of 602 was the highest of the season, and United did not disappoint.
Full-time: Hastings United 5-1 Chichester City
Man of the Match: Lanre Azeez was full of boundless energy and displayed a bagful of tricks to torment City throughout the game. He also displayed a great ability to find space in a congested midfield, offering United a different route out of defence and into attack.
A dominant first-half performance by United would have been difficult for any team to contend with. City’s unbeaten away form emphatically ended. With Cray Valley also winning, the gap at the top remains one point, although United have a game in hand.
Hastings United: Rogers, Black, Elphick, Stone, Elliott (77’ Beale), Rodari (68’ Pope), Ajakaiye, Adams, Worrall, Lovatt (65’ Pool), Azeez (Unused subs: Hull, Pogue)
Chichester City: Mowthorpe, Davidson, Hutchings, Axell (74’ Bennetts), C Cody, Heath, Clack, Horncastle (46’ Dunn), Jones, Rowlatt, Haitham (79’ G Cody) (Unused subs: Gicu, Kelly)
Next game: Tuesday 10th December, away to Sittingbourne in the league, kick-off 7:45pm.